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February 21, 2018

Three cell towers proposed to serve rural Fauquier

File Photo/Don Del Rosso
The Calvert Crossland telecommunications tower near Casanova goes up last August.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
As county government struggles to develop a fiber optic network for broadband internet connections in remote areas, a Maryland developer wants to build three telecommunications towers that would serve villages in rural Fauquier.

Proposed monopoles near Goldvein, Catlett and Hume would stand 145 to 195 feet, according Baltimore-based Calvert Crossland LLC. The towers would improve data and phone services in those areas.

Under Fauquier’s zoning ordinance, towers that exceed 80 feet require special exception approval by the county board of supervisors.

Calvert Crossland plans to file special exception permit applications with the county “as soon as possible,” said Partner Barbara Pivec, whose company last year constructed the 140-foot monopole near Casanova.

While the Goldvien application probably will be the first submitted, “there’s no firm dates of when (the towers) will be constructed and the (phone and data service) carriers will be there,” Ms. Pivec added.

Calvert Crossland wants approval to construct:

• A 195-foot tower on 61.2 acres at 3590 Rivenoak Lane near Goldvein. John B. Woodburn and Siobhan Woodward own the property.

Under the zoning ordinance, Fauquier’s Architectural Review Board must evaluate and make a recommendation on towers that exceed 145 feet.

• A 145-foot tower on 43.2 acres at 8075 Taylor Drive near Catlett. Phillip J. Knapp and Gail W. Sander own the property.

• A 145-foot tower on 14.8 acres at 5060 Leeds Manor Road near Hume. Charles P. Fuller owns the property.

All three sites have rural zoning.

The special exception review process involves public hearings by the planning commission and the supervisors. An advisory panel, the planning makes recommendations to the board, which has final authority.

Ms. Pivec plans to seek special exception approval for “several more” towers but declined to discuss those potential sites.

“I’m really not ready to talk about that right now, because I haven’t done the due diligence.”

For about two years, Fauquier has struggled to expand and improve broadband and wireless phone service to rural areas.

The proposed Calvert Crossland towers could help advance those goals.

Fauquier had hoped to partner with a company that would build, own and operate a countywide fiber optic cable network. The company would sell network access to wireless providers that would create “last-mile” broadband connections to homes and businesses in unserved and underserved areas.

Maryland-based Freedom Telecom Services Inc., doing business as FTS Fiber, submitted a proposal to Fauquier to construct such a system.

The company had successfully installed a fiber optic cable network — worth an estimated $20 million — for Kent County, Md.

But FTS last year underwent a “restructuring” that involved the CEO’s departure and the unexpected sale of the Kent County system to a startup company.

Because no other firm submitted a proposal to build a network for Fauquier, the supervisors last month canceled the broadband project. 

And, because of uncertainty about FTS, the board withdrew its acceptance of the company’s proposal to construct a 129-mile network here.
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junglejaneb · March 22, 2018 at 10:32 am
Definitely need more towers. The one in Casanova that was installed isn't more than maybe a mile, mile and a half from where I live (off of Meetze Rd and Woodbrook Ln) and I haven't seen improvement with my cell phone connection. Our whole neighborhood group emailed asking if the Casanova tower is active because no one's service has improved. Obviously the one tower is only a start, but not a complete solution. The local county government needs to "unhook the trailer" and get moving faster on meeting the needs of the citizens.
Paul Conlin · February 22, 2018 at 5:29 pm
Blaze Broadband currently provides high speed Internet and home phone service via fixed wireless in Hume and Catlett today. Hume is covered from a solar powered site on Rattlesnake Mountain just northwest of Hume. Catlett service is broadcast from the water tower on Old Dumfries Rd. We can’t currently reach Goldvein. The closest we get is from the commercial tower on Ensors Shop Road in Midland. Once on Blaze you can use a “microcell” to get 5 bars of cell phone service throughout your home. Send your street address to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and we will check service availability for your specific location.
pathupp · February 22, 2018 at 1:16 pm
We need service in Midland! I have 140 acres and would love cell service call me...on my land line only!
BJ · February 21, 2018 at 5:11 pm
Oh, I forgot...the one thing that does have us pondering, there isn't a visual light at the top of the tower that we can see, to warn low flying aircraft, and the Warrenton Airport is very close to us.
BJ · February 21, 2018 at 5:08 pm
As someone who is enjoying the number of bars that my cell phone now shows on a regular basis in the Casanova area, I have to say it is wonderful. It's not always a clear signal, rain and snow still affect the reception, yet an immense improvement. We can see the tower, mostly with the leaves gone from the trees, and it took much longer than expected, come Spring and new leaves it will be less obvious.

Blaine Johnson
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